`A stunning reappraisal of Henry VIII's fifth wife ... Gareth Russell's book is scholarly yet highly readable ... basing his account on exhaustive research into her household, he provides a portrayal that is fresh and compelling. It is a stunning achievement' Tracy Borman, Sunday Times
During one of the hottest summers on record the court of Henry VIII is embroiled, once again, in political scandal. The King's marriage to Anne of Cleves has failed, his closest adviser Thomas Cromwell is to be executed for treason and, in the countryside, an aristocratic teenager named Catherine Howard prepares to become fifth wife to the increasingly irascible, unpredictable monarch.
Her story is both a very dark fairy tale and a gripping thriller. Born into nobility and married into the royal family, Catherine was attended every waking hour by servants and companions. Secrets were impossible to keep. Based on his research into Catherine's household, Gareth Russell's history unfurls as if in real time to explain how the queen's career ended with one of the great scandals of Henry VIII's reign.
More than a traditional biography, this is a very human tale of some terrible decisions made by a young woman, and of complex individuals attempting to survive in a dangerous hothouse where the odds were stacked against them. By illuminating Catherine's entwined upstairs-downstairs worlds and bringing the reader into her daily milieu, the author retells her story in an exciting and engaging way that has surprisingly modern resonances.
Young and Damned and Fair is a riveting account of Catherine Howard's tragic marriage to one of history's most powerful rulers. It is a grand tale of the Henrician court in its twilight, a glittering but pernicious sunset during which the king's unstable behaviour and his courtiers' labyrinthine deceptions proved fatal to many, not just to Catherine Howard.
`A timely and powerful re-examination of Henry's fifth queen... Gareth Russell has done some beautiful new research to indicate that Catherine was not as foolish as some historians have suggested, and that her death was managed and manipulated by her offended husband, purely for his own revenge ... I love it when historians take the women who have been neglected by history seriously and study their lives rather than accepting stereotypes' Philippa Gregory `Russell marries slick storytelling with a great wealth of learning about sixteenth-century personalities and politics. The result is a book that leads us deep into the nightmarish final years of Henry VIII's reign, wrenching open the intrigues of a poisonous court in a realm seething with discontent. At the heart of it all is the fragile, tragic figure of Catherine Howard, whose awful fate is almost unbearable to watch as it unfolds. This is authoritative Tudor history written with a novelist's lightness of touch. A terrific achievement' Dan Jones `Securely rooted in the sources and mercifully devoid of sentiment, this is the most fully rounded, best written biography of Catherine Howard we have' Julia Fox, author of `Jane Boleyn' `A magnificent account of the rise and fall of Henry VIII's tragic fifth queen - compelling, thought-provoking and above all real. In Russell's meticulously researched narrative Catherine Howard and her household are brought to life as never before. Hugely enjoyable' Adrian Tinniswood `This fascinating and ultimately heartbreaking account of Henry VIII's doomed fifth wife brings to life the cruel, gossip-fuelled, back-stabbing world of the court in which Catherine Howard rose and fell. The uncommonly talented Gareth Russell has produced a masterly work of Tudor history that is engrossing, sympathetic, suspenseful, and illuminating' Charlotte Gordon, author of `Romantic Outlaws'
Gareth Russell was a student at Down High Grammar School in Northern Ireland before studying Modern History at Saint Peter's College at the University of Oxford. A playwright, novelist and historian, he writes the blog The Confessions of a Ci-Devant, which profiles his historical research and artistic interests. He has written for the Sunday Times, Tatler and the Irish News. He is the author of the novels `Popular' and `The Immaculate Deception'.